26/01/2017 – Toy Fair 2017
An interview with Marek Jankowski
Branza Dziecieca-Editor and BCMI-President Marek Jankowski is a member of the Trend Committee of the Spielwarenmesse. Which trends will be dominating in 2017?
baby&junior: As a member of the TrendCommittee, you have identified the trends for 2017. Where do you see the greatest potential?
Marek Jankowski: "I’ve proposed the following four trends for this year:
Tech is All Around
Robots, drones and augmented reality are no longer science fiction. They’ve become fact and are available to kids as well. What are the implications? Firstly, the staff in toy shops must learn about these products to be able to sell them. Secondly, more and more toys will be sold by electronics stores. From smartphones to smart TVs, to smart watches – the number of gizmos around us is constantly growing. This also applies to toys. At the same time, it's easier than ever to design and produce a new product. Even a start-up can raise money on Kickstarter or other crowdfunding platforms.
Apart from the latest releases, all the reputable toy stores offer classic toys as well. The reason for this is simple: there's still demand for them. Children at certain developmental stages have particular needs and interests that are fulfilled by traditional play and parents know it instinctively. Technology changes the products we use, including toys, but human beings haven't changed that much for centuries. We can adapt to new devices, but we still appreciate many old ones, especially when we're young children. Would you like your kid to think that all toys require batteries?
Toys Become Stories
Traditionally, licensing toys presented characters and objects made famous by books, movies and television. Nowadays, many toy manufacturers approach it the other way around. Instead of paying licensing fees, they invest both in products and content aimed to promote them (movies, TV series, apps, etc.). Why does licensing work? It makes customers know and like the characters displayed in stores. Content distribution has become much cheaper than it used to be, so sometimes it pays for toy manufacturers to invest in creating content that would do the same job: introduce the products to the public.
Born to Move
Although traditional sports equipment is always well received, toy producers go the extra mile and are still searching for new ways to combine physical activity with fun. They do so by improving and enhancing well-known products, or sometimes designing new ones from scratch. Since parents are becoming more and more active, kids are wanting to follow in their footsteps. But they need another motivation. For adults, it's important to look good and stay healthy for as long as possible. Children want to play and be accepted by peers. Born to Move helps them achieve both goals."
baby&junior: How do you spot a trend? What characterises a really good trend product?
Marek Jankowski: Answering your second question is not easy. Spotting trends in my case is based on recognising changes in the market – and I’m not only talking about the toy market here. For example, the Born to Move trend is based on the observation that more and more adults (and parents among them) are paying more attention to their physical health. This raised awareness must influence their purchasing decisions, including toys. Sometimes you can also identify some trends by looking at market research results. Toys Become Stories reflects the growing popularity of licensing toys and using various types of content to support playing with them."
Thank you for the interview, Marek!